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Smart Cities: Whys, hows and whats

We are living in times when urbanization is at peak and the challenges put forward because of it are numerous. We are also living in times that are technologically so advance that we witness exciting innovations almost every other day. And hearing a new buzzword has actually become so frequent.

One such word is – Smartcity. It’s been going around for a long time now. You would have read, heard and talked about it more often, but do we know what a smart city actually is? Do we understand the basics of it and do we know the elements that are required to make a city smart?
Unfortunately, there is absolutely no instruction manual available for cities to become smart. We wish it had though! But then we have reached a stage where we can definitely define the basic things/ elements that are required for a city to really become smart.
We will discuss those in brief in this article and we will try to explain each one of them in other posts
Urbanization Challenges and why smart cities are required
First, let’s have a look a look why there is a need for a ‘ Smart’ city. Below infographic talks about the same

Now, transforming a city into a smart one, requires a combined understanding of government, citizen, and businesses in order to bring everyone on one page and then, apply the appropriate technology strategies and architectures that will connect everything—people, data and devices —as well as embrace analytics and take a holistic approach.
Now, this complete process is complex.
And the biggest challenge to this is the Siloed approach, which means each and every vertical working unconnectedly. Now, this results in duplication of investment and revenue loss due to lack of interaction and sharing of information across verticals.
This fragmented approach is inefficient, has limited value, and is definitively not economical.
A smart city requires efficient use of all the resources available, which means sharing them in a connected and integrated network. These enable cities to optimize the services of each vertical, to further engage citizens and improve the quality of life. It helps in providing more services with fewer resources, which further helps in the reduction of city’s expenses.
Now, this was about why cities need to be ‘Smart’
Let’s talk about what are the elements that are required for this transformation.
The first and the most important one is the connectivity in form of Wi-Fi or data.
It enables cities to solve their most critical Solution Components (Lighting, water and waste management, etc.) on a shared and intelligent network infrastructure. At the same time, it enables cities to provide its citizens with free internet connectivity and access to a broad range of citywide services, thus making it a multi-service solution.
It provides an end-to-end architecture for citywide connectivity, enabling it anytime, anywhere. Not just that it helps in driving citizen engagement through greater access to city services, education, training and job opportunities. It also helps to improve quality of life and livability, making it easier to attract and retain businesses and talent
All this helps in optimizing city operations and planning, improving city efficiency and drive intelligent sensor-based smart services for 
transportation, utilities, public safety and environmental monitoring 
The next most important thing is to know the ways to tackle the enormous amount of data that is generated.
These insights can help businesses and city planners to be more efficient and more effective, and that translates to revenue eventually. But then the question that arises here is how can all this data be used for the greater use and good for our cities?
The collaboration happens between the most talked about technologies – the Internet of Things and the sensors and pervasive connectivity. This makes cities better connected, integrated and able to analyze information more cohesively in order to enhance their efficiency.
The value of all of this data is massive – but only the right business analytics approach can exploit the best possible outcomes.
With the right answers to the questions of how this data affects our world, we can empower cities and citizens to take actions to enable better lives.
Today, urban planners can draw on a decade or more of data to understand how a city might grow. Imagine what’s possible when you unleash data that has always been locked away without anybody using it properly —the value of making it available for city optimization, real-time updates, and predictive analytics. The solutions that can be/should be deployed to make a city smart are smart parking, smart lighting, waste management, safety and security, smart environment, citizen engagement, smart traffic, etc
The solutions that can be/should be deployed to make a city smart are smart parking, smart lighting, waste management, safety and security, smart environment, citizen engagement, smart traffic, etc
All this together opens up new avenues for cities to generate new revenue from existing infrastructure assets, without extra investment
Cities can look at their existing light poles as opportunities. Using the same common power and cabling and eliminating duplicate spend, cities can install various sensors and cameras on the existing light poles, to view and analyze traffic flow, determine parking availability, get environment values and check crowd flow.
By becoming smart, cities can unlock various avenues by exploring the existing infrastructure of the siloed verticals and make it available to address citywide challenges, from traffic to environment to lighting to parking to safety and security.
By combining it with data coming from intelligent sensors and smart devices, cities can create new revenue streams, reduce costs, operate more effectively and attract new businesses.
While the prospect of optimizing the challenges of growing metropolises may seem intimidating, the timing is actually perfect.
It should be implemented now… Why? Thanks to innovations in cheap sensor technology, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics – all these together in convergence, can make it possible to tackle all the urban issues.


This post was originally written for Quantela


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